Category Archives: Ex Libris

The Sky Pilot

Cover ImageThe Sky Pilot is an 1899 novel by the Rev. Dr. Charles William Gordon, writing under the pen name Ralph Connor.

It is the story of a young minister whose vocation takes him to a frontier town where he is initially dismissed by secular townsfolk as “The Sky Pilot”.

Although intended to be insulting and used in that sense in the title of this book, Sky Pilot was (and still is) widely used by armed forces personnel as an affectionate nickname for a chaplain or padre.

Arthur Linfoot read The Sky Pilot on 7 July 1915, while on holiday in St. Andrews.

Poison Island

Poison IslandSir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch was a British writer who published under the pen name of Q. He is best known for the Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250–1900, but was also a prolific novelist.

Quiller-Couch’s novel Poison Island is the story of Harry who meets a mysterious Captain Coffin. Coffin is planning a voyage to the Honduras, where he expects to find treasure, while avoiding the poison of the title.

Arthur Linfoot read Poison Island while on holiday in St. Andrews on 5 July 1915.


Cover ImageShe is a novel by H. Rider Haggard (1856–1925), first serialised in The Graphic magazine from October 1886 to January 1887.

The story is a first-person narrative that follows the journey of Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey to a lost kingdom in the African interior where they encounter Ayesha, the eponymous “She”.

She remains one of Rider Haggard’s most popular books and has never been out of print.

Arthur Linfoot started to read She while on holiday in St. Andrews on 3 July 1915 and finished it the next day.

De Omnibus

Cover ImageBarry Eric Odell Pain (28 September 1864 – 5 May 1928) was an English journalist, poet and writer.

De Omnibus has long been out of print but may be found at various on-line locations including at; a digitised (by Google) copy from New York Public Library. The book rather enigmatically names “The Conductor” as its author (the true author’s name appearing in parentheses) – evidently a pun on [omni]bus conductor.

Arthur Linfoot also read De Omnibus during his holiday in St. Andrews, recording it in his diary on the day after he started to read Omar Khayyám, 30 June 1915.

Omar Khayyám

Cover ImageOmar Khayyám (1048-1131 A.D.) was a Persian mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy and music. While it is not clear from the diary which of Omar Khayyám’s writings had engaged Arthur Linfoot’s interest, it was almost certainly his most famous work, The Rubáiyát.

The image here is of Arthur Linfoot’s own copy, which is still held in a family collection and is clearly marked “second edition”.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had “read a bit of Omar Khayyam” while on holiday in St. Andrews on 29 June 1915.

The Roadmender

Cover ImageThe Roadmender is a 1902 Christian spiritual book by Margaret Barber, writing under the pseudonym Michael Fairless. The book became a popular classic, running through 31 editions in 10 years.

The book is written as a series of meditations on the road to heaven with the author adopting the persona of The Roadmender.

Arthur Linfoot bought a copy of The Roadmender on 23 April 1915 and subsequently lent his copy to Willie Wanless on 6th May, the same day as his friend and colleague Bob Brotherston had died of wounds incurred during battle in France.

Critical and Historical Essays

Critical and Historical Essays, published in 1843, is a collection of articles by Thomas Babington Macaulay, later Lord Macaulay, which originally appeared in The Edinburgh Review. Most of the essays have as their subjects noted literary or political figures.

Macaulay is now best known as author of his poem Horatius, from Lays of Ancient Rome(“Then out spake brave Horatius, The Captain of the Gate…”).

Arthur Linfoot wrote on 29 March 1915 that he “did a bit shorthand at night from Macauley’s Essays” and again on 19 April 1915 that he “did some shorthand from Macaulay’s essay on Milton”. It appears to have been his habit to copy text from works such as Macaulay’s essays as a way of honing his skills at Pitman’s shorthand.

The Life of Jesus Christ

James Stalker (1848-1927) was a minister, lecturer and preacher for the Free Church of Scotland. He wrote around two dozen books, the majority on Christian themes, the first of which, in 1879, was The Life of Jesus Christ.

The Life of Jesus Christ was enduringly popular, going through a number of editions and revisions over at least the two decades after its publication, and is still available today both in print and as an e-book.

On 6 December 1914, Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had “lent Reverend MacDonald Stalker’s Life of Christ”, presumably his own copy. The diaries do not mention when Arthur Linfoot himself had acquired or read the book.